The 2020 State of the Union Address - February 2-3, 2020



Speaker 1:           The following podcast is a presentation of the Washington College of Law at American University. Any unauthorized use or distribution is strictly prohibited.

Fernando:           Welcome. This is Fernando Laguarda. I'm the faculty director of the program on law and government here at American University Washington College of Law. Welcome you to our podcast. Today we're talking about presidential speech and the State of the Union. Our special guest is David Kusnet, who was chief speechwriter for President Clinton during the '92 campaign when he was Candidate Clinton, and then for the first two years of President Clinton's term in office. He has also been a speechwriter for Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis... Has written numerous books including... most directly on point... Speaking American, which I recommend to you if you're interested in the rhetoric of Democratic presidential candidates in particular.

Fernando:           Welcome, David.

David:                   Thank you. It's great to be here.

Fernando:           We're going to talk about the State of the Union, but before we do that I wanted to get your thoughts. You've been thinking about political speech and presidential speech, but I want to talk about the unique speech of our current president, Donald Trump, in particular. Trump's speech... what comes to mind when you think about it as a student and practitioner of political speech?

David:                   I think up until President Trump, there's always been an understanding with presidents in both parties that however they speak in private and however they speak at a political rally with their supporters, when they're speaking as president they're speaking for the whole country and to the whole country. That means that they try to speak in some kind of inclusive way, some kind of respectful and respectable way. They try to speak not as the leader of a party or, much less, a faction within a party, but as the leader of the country.

David:                   With the rhythm of political speeches, it's generally... Having worked in one successful presidential campaign, we understood that you speak one way when you're running for president, you speak another way when you're inaugurated as president... the inaugural address is your ceremonial installation of head of state... and then you speak another way when you're delivering your first joint session message, and then a year later when you're doing your first State of the Union. Then you're speaking not only as a head of state but as a head of government who's reviewing what the condition of the country is and what the administration has tried to do to improve conditions and what the administration wants to do to make things even better.

Fernando:           How does Trump, as president now, fit into or challenge or break those molds or practices or expectations that people have come to have about presidential speech?

David:                   Starting out, when he was running for president, he spoke in ways that no other candidate had ever spoken before. He used very crude language. He spoke crudely about whole ethnic, racial, religious groups in this country and about the countries from which their families had come. He spoke very crudely about his opponents. He started out a notch or two below the usual standard for a presidential candidate. And then when he became a presidential nominee he really didn't change and he didn't even speak for the entire Republican Party. He spoke for what had been a faction that had taken over the Republican Party. Then a lot of people thought or hoped that when he became president he would change, but he warned us; when he was running, he said that he could be presidential but then he'd bore the hell out of everybody so he wouldn't bother. That was one promise that he lived up to, because as president he hasn't spoken differently from how he spoke as the leader of a faction within the Republican Party.

David:                   Look at his first inaugural address when he described what was going on in this country as American carnage, where he made it sound like he was assuming the leadership of a country where economic and social conditions were at a level not seen since the Great Depression, and where we were being taken advantage of by the rest of the world and exploited by a group of globalists in this country who were letting the rest of the world take advantage of us. That set the tone for most of the public rhetoric of his presidency. The exception has been his joint session and State of the Union speeches. Those have been less elevated than his predecessors but more elevated than anything else he has said. There haven't been any vulgarities. There haven't been any crude attacks on political opponents. There's been less willful downgrading of the condition of the country when he took office and there's been more of an attempt to hit some high notes.

David:                   The saying with him has been that there's two poles of his rhetoric. One is Twitter Trump, where he is as truant as he wants to be, and the other is teleprompter Trump, where he's reading words that someone else helped him write in order to make him appear respectable. The State of the Unions have been teleprompter Trump and respectable.

Fernando:           I want to teleprompter Trump and State of the Union Trump in a moment, but I want to start where you pointed to, because one aspect or facet of his presidency... and I've written about it... is Twitter Trump: what he does on Twitter, what impact that's had on speech, on political rhetoric. For lawyers and law students, I would argue also on agenda-setting and framing of policy in the executive branch, where we've come to rely on Twitter as an official tool of the presidency. From your perspective, in terms of speech and presidential speech, what has the impact been of Twitter and Trump's use of Twitter?

David:                   It's really injected something entirely new into public debate and... as you said... into governance. I believe that Twitter has only been around under one other president... President Obama... and his tweets were short versions of the way he spoke and wrote in other utterances. They were elevated: no vulgarities, no attacks, no misspellings, no factual errors, just 140 characters... and I forget if they upped that to 280 characters during the Obama Presidency.

Fernando:           No, it was later.

David:                   In practice, the 140 characters of President Obama are being President Obama. Trump has been the first presidential candidate and then the first president who tweeted the way the harshest and angriest and most undisciplined people tweet. He says whatever comes into his mind. He is very negative to and about all kinds of people. It comes to mind calling the chair of the House Intelligence Committee Shifty Schiff, calling Mitt Romney a pompous ass, and just random capitalization, random typographical errors, and sometimes typographical errors that are unintelligible. It's like they're in some kind of code.

Fernando:           The famous covfefe.

David:                   Exactly.

Fernando:           What's the impact of that been? Do you think people see that as being just a change but unclear, or do you think it's directionally changing rhetoric? Are people following in that path? Will and should presidents follow in that path of using Twitter that way, or is he sui generis?

David:                   He's certainly sui generis in terms of what came before. We really don't know what's going to come after or how long he's going to be there. There's no parallel in interviews, stump speeches, anything, any public utterance of a president of the United States sounding like President Trump does at a rally or in a tweet. You'd have to compare him to embarrassing, off-the-record, behind-the-scenes things that other presidents have said. W

David:                   hat Trump proudly says publicly sounds like what Nixon said ashamedly with his closest aides while being taped, and then he fought to prevent the tapes from becoming public, or when people years later write their memoirs about President Johnson or President Truman or President Nixon; they'll say they talked something like that way in private, but they never had any intention of talking that way in public, much less pushing it out themselves. The kind of ethnic slurs, the crude remarks about women, the contempt for political opponents, that's the kind of thing that if a president said it at all they said it in private with their closest aides, not in public to millions of Twitter followers or at a large rally that's being broadcast live on cable.

Fernando:           I want to move from that... because it is a pretty stark image... to State of the Unions or what you were calling the category of the teleprompter Trump or the more traditional rhetoric. Describe the process of a State of the Union or what goes into one in terms of preparing and [inaudible 00:10:43] message and think about taking a very successful messaging on Twitter and jamming it into... Is there an equivalent of the 140 character for State of the Union? What is the State of the Union about? Then put this Trump phenomenon into it.

David:                   It's the polar opposite of a tweet or a rally speech, and that's been true not just under this president but under other presidents. You're the Constitutional scholar, but I believe it's the only speech that's even hinted at in the Constitution of the United States.

Fernando:           It's called a message. It's not even a speech.

David:                   Exactly. But there's a requirement that in some way, shape, or form the president report regularly on... I think they do use the phrase... the state of the union, and the Constitution was written before the telegraph, much less before the internet and Twitter or cable or broadcast TV or radio. It was a very different media environment, a very different country, a very different political system. There's a whole evolution of that where President Wilson was the first to deliver a State of the Union message in person to both houses of Congress, President Harding was the first to have it broadcast live over the radio, President Truman was the first to have it broadcast over television, President Johnson was the first to have it broadcast live over television in the evening. President Clinton was the first to have it live streamed... they didn't call it live streaming then, but the first to have it available on the internet. Now of course we've gone beyond that to Twitter, which is a platform that only Presidents Obama and Trump have used, and used very differently.

David:                   It's a polar opposite from a tweet or a rally speech. It's really almost a report not just from the president but from the entire executive branch of the government. The way it usually is done... if it's done by the book and the president isn't distracted... is early on the president will meet with the speechwriters and other close advisors and talk about what he... and so far it's only been men... wants to say in the State of the Union. Very often, the president and those close to him start saying, "This one is not going to be a laundry list. It's going to be a vision of the future." That's how it starts out, as they should. Then every cabinet department and every major agency and so on in the government sends in their reports on what they've done during the past year and their recommendations on what should be done in the future.

David:                   When I was in the White House, that was still in the era of paper, so a lot of paper came into the office of the staff secretary, who's the White House official responsible for vetting what goes to the president, the staffing of issues that need to be resolved among the agencies. You go to the staff secretary, the staff secretary will go through it, send the appropriate documents to the speechwriters. You'd meet again with the president, who would've also had the opportunity to read through all of this material. Presidents like President Obama or President Clinton, who I worked with, they're very scholarly and they actually read this stuff. There'd be a refinement of what the president wanted to say. Then we'd all get to work.

David:                   There's many speeches where only writer works on it, or maybe two. This is something where you draw in the whole team. In the Clinton Administration, there was a separate team under the National Security Council of speechwriters who wrote about foreign policy and defense: they were drawn in. Somehow, you'd have all this stuff and people would be staying up all night and working all day and working on weekends and try to come up with some coherent narrative that encompasses all of this seen through the lens of what we think the president wants to say. At some point, the president gets a draft and reacts to it. If it's a president like President Clinton, they've been thinking it through on their own and talking to all sorts of friends and advisors we don't deal with regularly. At some point with President Clinton at least, there would be a process where he would... while appearing to rehearse the speech... actually be revising it while he was rehearsing it. Clinton was less a person who revised on paper than someone who revised in his own mind while he was speaking. It's a rare talent, but he has it.

David:                   Through that process we would come up with something. With the first joint session speech to Congress on... I still remember the day... February 23, 1993... we can check that, but I believe that's what it was. It was in February of '93. The first joint session speech, the economic program... which he was presenting... was still taking shape almost right until the end. A bunch of us are sitting in the old executive office building writing it all the day the day before, the night before, and then into the day of. The president would revise it as we brought it in and the document that he brought with him to the House Chamber in the Capitol was finalized very late in that afternoon. The Washington Post was good enough to remind us that he improvised about 25% off of the prepared text that was distributed to the press. And it was also a very successful speech. While I would not recommend that every other first year, first term president follow that model, the Bill Clinton model did work for Bill Clinton.

Fernando:           That's a cool story and when you talk about it working, tell me what you mean by work. Work as rhetoric? Work as good television? Work as persuading or framing policy agenda or a vision or speaking to particular audiences? What's your standard for what works in a State of the Union?

David:                   I clearly have a bias involved in this, but it worked in the sense that the president had a speech that he was comfortable with, although not so comfortable that he wouldn't improvise. But he was comfortable in the speech he gave. If you watch a video of it, you would think maybe he was rehearsing this 10 days in advance. He was fluent, polished, emphatic. It was well-received by the polls, by what was then called dial-groups... focus groups of people with dials where they dial up if they like it or dial down if they don't like it... and it presented and economic plan that was eventually passed by both houses of Congress, even though it didn't give anybody everything they wanted, whether it was liberal Democrats or conservative Republicans.

David:                   You can say that it was unsuccessful in the sense that Republicans captured Congress in the '94 elections. I think you can attribute that to all kinds of things going on in the country, though, not to that one speech, not even to the economic plan. I guess you could further say it was successful in that the president was reelected, the economy kept improving, I think the verdict of history on that aspect of the Clinton Presidency has been a positive one.

Fernando:           It just occurs to me... not entirely a parallel, but-

David:                   If I could correct myself, I think it was February 17 that the joint session speech was in '93.

Fernando:           And we're calling it a joint session because it's not delivered after a term.

David:                   Right. You're not reporting on the State of the Union because you've only been president about a month.

Fernando:           In terms of the objective of the speech, Clinton was elected without a popular vote majority.

David:                   That's right.

Fernando:           As was President Trump. Different circumstances, but similar in the sense of perhaps finding themselves needing legitimacy in that moment. Has Trump used his speeches in a different way? We talked about his tweeting. He is speaking clearly to his supporters; less so... as were talking about presidential speech... to non-supporters or to the persuadeables or those who like to be persuaded. Arguably, he's being successful in terms of how he sees things. How do you compare those two in terms of their use of the speech?

David:                   First, forgive me for drawing this distinction. President Clinton was elected in 1992 with more popular votes than his closest opponent, President George HW Bush. President Trump got fewer popular votes than his opponent. That's a difference. President Clinton won in a three way race where Ross Perot was the third candidate, and Ross Perot... I believe... got in the double digits of the popular vote. It's very different from President Trump getting several million votes fewer than Hilary Clinton and there not being any other... There were other candidates, but none of them got more than two or three percent of the vote.

David:                   That said, President Clinton understood that he was elected in an election where a majority either voted for George HW Bush or Ross Perot, both of whom were more conservative than he was. If you look at the rhetoric of the first joint session speech, it is not partisan or especially liberal rhetoric. It speaks in many things: many progressive goals like greater economic equality, greater economic opportunity, more jobs, raising wages for low wage workers. It speaks to all those things, but it also speaks of fiscal responsibility and personal responsibility and national unity. It was an effort to reach out to people who had not voted for him. It was not an entirely different kind of rhetoric from the rhetoric that relatively moderate Republicans like the first President Bush or Gerald Ford or President Eisenhower used. You would think that the American political system had gone through a convulsion to bring us Bill Clinton as president.

Fernando:           As you were saying, so far from President Trump's addresses to Congress we haven't seen that apocalyptic inaugural rhetoric or the Twitter speech. Unclear what he'll see for the address coming up, although... I don't know if you've heard differently... it seems like people are writing about it or leaking about it and saying it seems pretty straightforward and on a path with his prior ones. Do you see anything unique about how Trump uses the State of the Union, or do you think it fits within this construct that you defined it as? Kind of representing what the executive branch is doing and wants through the lens of what the president eventually believes best reflects his goals.

David:                   So far, the one joint session speech and two State of the Union speeches have been the most normal presidential speeches that President Trump has delivered. I think if you went through them line by line, you'd probably find more harshness than other presidents' State of the Unions, but nothing compared to his rally speeches or his tweets. Certainly immigration comes to mind as an issue, and not only his positions but also his rhetoric are very harsh compared to any president of any party who came before him.

David:                   Looking for historic analogies, there have been other presidents in the past 50 years who have delivered State of the Union messages while facing impeachment or... in the case of Bill Clinton and I guess President Trump tomorrow... while an impeachment trial was still going on, the common element has been to say, "Let's move forward with our country's business. This is a distraction. Let's move forward with our country's business." In 1974, President Nixon said, "One year of Watergate is enough." He intended that to be one of the sound bytes of his State of the Union speech. President Clinton, while still being tried for the impeachment proceedings in 1999, completely ignored it and instead sent an implicit message to move on by giving a very detailed report about the condition of the country and the world and how they had improved under his tenure, and how he could still make things better with his proposals.

Fernando:           In a sense, it was an implicit rebuke of the whole process.

David:                   That's right. He did not mention the process, even though it was going on as he spoke, in the same days before and after his speech. President Trump last year... when certainly investigation and impeachment might've been in the air... that was before the Ukraine controversy, but all kinds of other issues were there... was I think one of the few times he's ever used rhyming. He said something like, "The country needs peace and legislation, not war and investigation." Somewhere Jessie Jackson was probably smiling because he was probably the best known rhymer in presidential politics, at least in my memory.

David:                   This year, it remains to be seen what he's going to say. I guess it also remains to be seen to what extent he goes off of his text, or what extent some last minute revision of the text reflects his own view and state of mind and emotion compared to his advisors.

Fernando:           Do you have an expectation or a sense of what he's going to do? Do you have a sense based on passed practice and that this is an election year, that he's more likely to try a message that the supporters who will want to listen to him will want to hear will come to expect in terms of his rhetoric? Or do you think it's more of normal, as you were calling the other addresses to Congress?

David:                   This year is the intersection of two kinds of events that previously have shaped different kinds of State of the Union messages. There's an impeachment going on, which was true when Presidents Nixon and Clinton... but with both of them in their second terms. The president is running for reelection, which in recent decades was true of every president, whether or not they won. The second President Bush, President Obama...

Fernando:           Except for Johnson.

David:                   Exactly. You can go back to Lyndon Johnson and you find every president... whether they want it or not or throughout their second term... sought reelection. Under those circumstances a State of the Union speech is an elevated and detailed and programmatic preview of the campaign speech. It offers an optimistic view of the record, an optimistic view of the condition of the country, a philosophical theme, and sometimes a positioning against a likely opponent.

David:                   Looking back at a few State of the Unions, President Clinton in 1996 had a philosophical framing that was centrist, not way out liberal. He said, "The era of big government is over, but that doesn't mean that we want to go back to the era when our citizens had to fend for themselves." The phrase at that time was that he was triangulating: presenting himself as a midpoint between some kind of liberalism that he did fully represent and the conservatives that he was running against, which was a fend-for-yourself, you're-on-your-own conservatism.

David:                   President Obama, by the time of the State of the Union speech in 2012, anticipated that Mitt Romney or someone like him would be the opponent. He, wisely at that time, was recalling Theodore Roosevelt, a progressive Republican, as his model of someone who said that the government has to be on your side against extreme concentrations of wealth and power. He talked about having an America where everybody had a fair chance and a fair shake and everybody played by the same set of rules. He also had a philosophical framing for his reelection. President Bush in 2004 spoke at length about how the greatest responsibility of the president and the government was protecting our citizens: national security. That fit into the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and the war on terrorism and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

David:                   Looking to President Trump tomorrow, I imagine that he will have some variant of his slogan in 2016, of making America great again. Presumably, he'll say that he has gone some distance to make America great again and with another term he would do even more to make American great again. He can present the impeachment... either implicitly or explicitly... as some kind of distraction, or worse, to the journey that he wants to lead.

Fernando:           There's a media theory... I don't know what else to call it... about how the number of speakers or channels increase, the significance or importance of whatever that leading channel is also increases. In other words, you have this paradox that the more voices there are, the more important or powerful those voices that may be a bit louder get to be, because people look to that one channel perhaps even more so to stand out from the rest. Now we have multiple television networks. We've got social media. We've got internet media. We've got blogging. We have traditional media, whatever is left of it. And we still have this Super Bowl political event coming up. Is that the right way to think about it? Is the State of the Union kind of like a political speech Super Bowl? Or in an era of Twitter and constant campaigning and a non-stop news cycle and cable news 24/7 on multiple channels where people go to listen to people they agree with, does it matter less? Are the stakes lower or are the stakes higher? What do you think as someone who's worked in the space?

David:                   I think the State of the Union and the inaugural both still command an attention and an audience and if done properly can have an impact that's greater than any other presidential speech, greater than any political speech by anyone else, and greater than that whole cacophony of different kinds of media that you mentioned. With the exception of the inaugural, which is every four years, there's never a moment when the president is more presidential than at the State of the Union address. There he is. He's speaking from the Capitol of the United States. He's speaking in the House Chamber. He's speaking to the members of every branch of government: the House and the Senate, the Supreme Court, his own cabinet, and while it's not a branch of government I believe that the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are also there. The entire United States government except for a designated survivor who is usually one of the lesser-known cabinet secretaries is there, and he's speaking in real time to the American people. And he has the vice president and the speaker sitting behind him.

David:                   There's never a moment when the president has the opportunity to appear and sound more presidential than reporting on the condition of the country, speaking for the entire country, speaking to the entire country, offering a vision of the future, and in times of international tension often speaking for the entire country against some international adversary or threat, whether it's terrorism or... in the Cold War... the Soviet Union or right now who knows. It's an opportunity to be presidential in a way that he can only be four or five times during a term and no other ally or adversary can be at all. It's almost the one kind of speech or communication that can be amplified but not preempted by Twitter and other social media.

Fernando:           Tips for watching or to help us understand what's going on before we close the conversation? What can people do to be informed viewers of this event?

David:                   Since you mention viewer, something to keep in mind is that it's a visual presentation as well as a verbal one. One trick that presidents of both parties have used is to play off of the audience, which includes the opposition party and in this case will include a number of presidential contenders. One way to do it is to say something that the president knows the American people will agree with, but that the opposition party may not agree with. The members of his own party are going to stand up and cheer while he says this popular thing. The question is, what does the opposition party do? Do they also stand up and cheer, which could mean that they have implicitly bought into some policy that they don't actually share, or are they going not cheer or clap once and then be silent, which will suggest that they're on the other side from the president and from the people, or from where the president believes the people are? Are some of them going to cheer and some not, which would suggest that they're divided? That's a great moment of theater.

David:                   President Clinton did that. It may even been in the 1999 speech where he boasted about the surplus and then he said, "And we need to use that surplus to shore up to save social security now," which is something most people then and now would think is a great idea, but he believed that Republicans wanted to use that money for tax cuts for the wealthy. Are they going to applaud that or not applaud that? That's the question. Last time, there was a new piece of stage business... which I guess once you introduce some stage business it never goes away... where President Trump was playing off of Nancy Pelosi and trying to get her to do something that would embarrass herself in some way.

David:                   The 2018 elections had seen record numbers of women elected to the House and Senate and Nancy Pelosi coming back as speaker, and many of them were wearing suffragists' white clothing. At one point in the speech, President Trump paid tribute to the growing numbers and influence of women, first in the workforce and then in government. He figured that the Democratic women and the Republican women were going to applaud. He figured that Democratic women would either applaud him or they'd embarrass themselves by not applauding such an uncontroversial statement. And then down the road he made some kind of statement... and I call it platitude not because it was lame rhetoric but because no reasonable person would disagree with it... about the importance of bi-partisanship and civility, and partly because that sounded unusual coming from his mouth and partly because the Democrats... particularly the Democratic women and the Democratic women who were sitting behind him as speaker of the House... had had enough... There's that famous video clip of Nancy Pelosi doing the clap back. People will probably be looking not just for applause but for clap backs, for ironic applause.

Fernando:           I said as you watch I think of it as very visual, and some of that theater... I wonder how people sit through it, because it is really at the president's command that a whole theater takes place in terms of the applause lines, the people in the gallery: the heroes that President Reagan starting calling on that now are kind of a troupe of these speeches, where there's somebody called out and the obligatory standing ovation for insert-name-of admirable person. It is a fair amount of theater.

David:                   That's right. As you say, even the exhaustion plays into it because so many of the members of the House and Senate are getting on in years. If anyone appears even for a moment to be dozing off or having their mind wandering, the camera is going to hone in on them and there will be this embarrassing photograph of somebody in the House or the Senate seeming to be distracted or even dozing off on this important occasion. That will not do them good, at least in the immediate future. Part of the drama is for people who have heard this all before and are getting on in years to stay awake and alert whenever there's a camera around.

Fernando:           It reminds me how far we've come since Woodrow Wilson delivering an address in person to now on live television... for lack of a better work... live video... The cameras are showing reactions from the crowd, not just focusing on the president delivering words. As statecraft and political theater, clearly it's evolved. Do you have any sense of how... both for Trump and more generally... these speeches do in terms of setting the stage for the rest of the year politically? This is for an election year, so you're talking about the importance to the campaign. Does the 24 hour news, social media cycle pick up on this stuff, or is it mostly about who's yawning and who's clapping back, or are there going to be moments to hook into policy as a result of what happens in the speech? Or does it depend on what Trump does?

David:                   The modern tradition... beginning with President Reagan and maybe concluding with President Obama... has been for this to be a several week extravaganza: that the administration rolls out policy initiatives beforehand. You may have the president or vice president or cabinet secretary going somewhere and announcing a new program to bring technology into the classroom or new program to clean up toxic waste sites. That previews elements that are going to be in the State of the Union. It also can be a trial balloon and if something isn't expressed quite right or received well, it won't go in the State of the Union.

David:                   I should've mentioned that another element of theater is the guests in the gallery. Since President Reagan, presidents from both parties have honored private citizens who have something good or stand for something good by having them in the gallery as guests of the first lady. That's another important element.

David:                   Returning to what the choreography has been since President Reagan, you have the rollout, you have the actual speech, and then the president goes on the road and does a victory tour and goes to more places that would benefit from the programs that were announced in the State of the Union. Because of the impeachment, there hasn't been much of a rollout before this State of the Union. Sending President Trump out on a victory tour in an election year to places all over the country, whether it's intended to or not, will probably result in there being more rally speeches and fewer policy speeches. I don't think there's going to be the kind of rollout or follow up that's been tradition with every president from both parties from Reagan through Obama.

Fernando:           The electorate knew that they were getting something completely different and we are getting something completely different. Do you have any closing thoughts or advice, especially to students who may be listening, about how to be good students of the process here?

David:                   I think listen carefully and when... this is the advantage of being able to reply when it's over, and seeing a transcript minutes later. There's a reason why every word is there. The reason can be anything from some policy initiative to some polling result to some preoccupation that the president himself, but no word gets spoken in the State of the Union by accident. There's a reason why it's there, and from seeing those words you can almost reverse engineer what's behind them.

Fernando:           So Rorschach Test or...

David:                   Yeah. It's almost like a Rorschach Test of a pattern that was drawn from some kind of blueprint. There is some reason why something is there. With this president, it may reflect some kind of preoccupation or grievance that he has, but tells you something. If it's a policy initiative, it may be reflect someone who has the president's ear who wants to do something. If it's some kind of a framing... "I stand for this, and implicitly or explicitly other people stand for that..." that may reflect some polling result or political strategy. But there's a reason why everything is there. As you figure out why everything is there, you learn something.

Fernando:           That's a good way to close it. There's a reason why Davod Kusnet was here with us today, and that's because he knows a lot about presidential speech and about political speech. I really appreciate you joining. Thank you everybody for listening.

David:                   Thank you for having me.